Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., said Monday he has warned the White House to choose its Senate confirmation battles carefully after it was reported President Trump had shortlisted his private pilot for the position of Federal Aviation administrator.
“I’d prefer that they send somebody up that we can confirm easily. I’ve conveyed that to them,” Thune told Politico of John Dunkin, Trump’s pilot.
Republicans hold a slim 51-seat majority in the Senate, and Thune said “Democrats would probably want to make it challenging” to confirm Dunkin given his personal relationship with Trump.
“They say he’s got good qualifications and all that,” Thune added, referring to Dunkin. “But there are other people that I’m aware of that they’ve been vetting that would be very good in that position.”
Axios first reported Sunday that Dunkin, who flew Trump across the country during the 2016 campaign, was in the mix to become the next leader of the Federal Aviation Administration.
“John Dunkin isn’t just a pilot,” a senior administration official told Axios in a statement. “He’s managed airline and corporate flight departments, certified airlines from start-up under FAA regulations, and oversaw the Trump presidential campaign’s air fleet, which included managing all aviation transportation for travel to 203 cities in 43 states over the course of 21 months.”
Acting FAA Administrator Dan Elwell and Rep. Dan Graves, R-Mo., are also reportedly being considered.
The FAA falls under the Department of Transportation and works to ensure safe and efficient air and space travel, among other responsibilities.